by Royce Carlson
This is our third year going to
the Burning Man Festival and our most ambitious one yet! Why do we do this?
Here's my take on the importance of Burning Man to our culture and why
thousands of us spend inordinate amounts of time and money to create this
temporary community in the Nevada desert.
If you don't know what Burning
Man is all about, I recommend you visit their
web site. They can tell it best. Here's my description: It's an
incredible experiment in community that involves acceptance of diversity,
indulgence in your fantasies, creative expression of all kinds, sharing in the
spirit of true community, freedom from advertising, a gifting economy and
loads of fun. Last year approximately 25,000 people attended (my guess). This
is the 16th year of the event and it has changed my life and the lives of
many, many others.
Burning Man has already
influenced mainstream culture and, unless you have attended the event, you
would never know it. I have seen many TV ads filmed in locations that look a
lot like the ancient lakebed where the event is held. I have seen things at
Burning Man and then seen similar things turn up in advertising, magazines,
etc. Technological experiments are tried at the festival that eventually make
their way into the mainstream, and people meet at Burning Man, get inspired,
and then go on to making new things happen in society and business. I have no
actual examples of this, just a strong feeling about it.
The Burning Man organization is
very protective of itself and the community regarding commercial use of images
taken there. It is such a powerful potential influence that many corporations
seek to attach themselves to the energy of the festival. This, they strictly
forbid. Yet, each year, more and more articles are written about Burning Man
in mainstream newspapers and magazines. This month's issue of National
Geographic has an image from Burning Man on the cover and I have heard that
they will be there filming this year. It's that powerful an event.
I, for one, am pleased and
honored to be a part of it. In fact, everyone who attends is urged not to be a
spectator, but to participate in any way they can. From wearing wild outfits
to creating huge interactive art pieces, and from surveying and laying out the
streets to greeting people at the gate, there are hundreds, if not thousands,
of ways to contribute to the fantastic experience for all.
Some people spend all year
planning their camp or their art. Some spend thousands of dollars of their own
money to create something for the festival. Why? We do it because we know we
are a part of something important. We do it because we feel like, for once,
that we belong to a real community that will accept us - even embrace us - as
we are, and we want to give back to a community that gives us so much.
Black Rock City (the name of
the temporary community) may only exist physically for a week, but it lives
year round in the minds and hearts of those who have been to Burning Man and
felt at home.
If you are interested in
following the event on the Web, first of all visit the
Man website. Second, we are going to try to post images and text from the
event on our web site via a satellite uplink. This didn't work last year, but
we hope that this year things will work.
If the web-casting
doesn't work this time, I will post a report after the event.
We are exhausted
and excited at the same time! We can't wait to get back to Black Rock City.
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